Reputable End of the World Scenarios

September 20, 2008 | By | 1 Reply More

A new book is in press, and will be released in a month. The author of the BadAstronomy blog, Phil Plait has written “Death From the Skies: These Are the Ways the World Will End!” That’s him, exhibiting typical Ivory Tower Professorial reserve as he eyes his pre-release copy (click him to read his reaction).

For a hint about what’s in it, his post about the recently seen most distant object gives a clue. In brief, observatories have seen and confirmed a Population I supernova 12.8 billion light years away/ago. This is the oldest object ever observed, and it again confirms theories about how galaxies form.

So what? Well, imagine a flash of gamma rays that we can see from that far away. If it had happened anywhere in our own galaxy, then it would have been bright enough to totally sterilize our planet in 24 hours. All the way through the crust! We’re talking gamma rays, not happy sunshine. There are many interlocking observations to explain how we know this. Here’s Nasa’a take.

The good news is that this scale of stellar event is first-generation (Population I). We are living in a second generation galaxy in a third generation neighborhood. (Wiki about Stellar Populations) But there are other types of events that can produce similar radiation hazards to us if they happen in our galaxy. I presume that if you read the book, you’ll see for yourself.

So the End Timers like Sarah Palin could be partially right. If one can bodily rise up to heaven after being vaporized by gamma rays. Biblical catastrophes are nothing compared to what astronomers have discovered in the last half century actually goes on out there. It is possible that one or more of the not-yet-explained mass extinctions on our planet was due to stellar radiation events. Perhaps a precessing quasar, a black hole forming, or some such event had happened within 5,000 light years, and life on Earth had to re-boot.

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Category: Current Events, Environment, Recommended Reading/Films/Sites, Religion, Science, Technology

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A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    You get only one point for being right about something, two points for being right for the right reason. Sarah Palin only gets one point if we all fry up in a shower of gamma rays. I assume that we'll look like that evil Nazi portrayed at the end of "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

    That is really amazing to feel the thump of something that happened 12.8 B light years away. Chalk one up to those clever scientists to design machines that can extend our understanding that far away!

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